South Pacific

New Zealand

written by | Posted on March 29th, 2012


get active

Active Downunder, a small San Diego-based boutique tour company, offers high-quality, competitively priced adventures that tender a comprehensive and exciting glimpse of New Zealand.

Founded in 2002 by Jane Turner, a native New Zealander, the company exemplifies tour operators specializing in the country.

According to Turner, Active Downunder’s forte lies in affordable, customized excursions that generally appeal to a “more independent clientele looking for singular experiences and a good standard of accommodation, along with varying levels of activity. Some of our clients love to participate in day hikes or swimming with dolphins; others are happy taking a boat cruise or just enjoying a more leisurely paced trip.

“We also cater well to multi-generational families, since we tailor itineraries with something for everyone, like for those wishing to be active, as well as those who choose not to.

“Our trips typically start at around $300 pp per day, and go up from there,” she says. “Much depends on [the client’s] preferred style of accommodation and activities. Our average trip costs around $360 pp per day. This includes accommodations, car hire and some day tours.”

She urges that, since New Zealand is such a thrilling destination, travelers should “allow as much time as possible, as there is so much to see and do.”

Some tours feature true “Lord of the Rings” scenery enjoyed while “whisking up a remote river on a Jetboat”—Jetboats are a true kiwi innovation, specifically designed to navigate New Zealand’s shallow, braided river—from where the gasp-inducing scenery can best be appreciated.

Other tour options include overnight stays at a wilderness lodge and at a high country sheep station, swimming with dolphins, overnight cruises on either the Milford or Doubtful Sounds, helicopter-and-hike ventures into glaciers, horseback riding on deserted beaches, bungee jumps, wine tasting and attending lectures on Maori culture.

Turner says that Active Downunder’s clients invariably enjoy stays at “hosted-style” accommodations, which she describes as “thoroughly New Zealand-style inns.

“These accommodations are typically private, lodge-style properties where guests are hosted by New Zealanders,” she adds. “This offers our clients an opportunity to interact with New Zealanders. The properties are all in the four- and five-star category with, always, a private bathroom.”

indulge with tack

Clients with a more substantial budget who prefer more restricted, guided and pampered tours should consider Tauck.

“We have a pretty comprehensive 20-day itinerary that includes both Australia and New Zealand,” says Tom Armstrong, corporate communications manager. “We recognize that 20 days might be

difficult for some guests, however, and that some might want to visit only New Zealand. So guests have that option.”

Armstrong is referring to Tauck’s Grand Australia and New Zealand (from $8,100 pp plus on-tour

air) that stops along the country’s high spots while simultaneously engaging travelers in a variety

of activities.

The tour crisscrosses New Zealand on business-class air charters to and from Auckland. Its stops include visits to a working farm to acquire a taste of New Zealand country life; helicopter rides to the summit of Bob’s Peak in Queenstown, a 2,400-ft.-high landmark with stunning lake and mountain views; visits to the Rotorua geysers to see violent geothermal activity; stops at the glacier-carved cliffs of Milford Sound and even a wine cruise in Marlborough Sound where guests sample green-lipped mussels and other local specialties.

The tour includes accommodations in some of the most luxurious hotels and lodges in the

country—places like The Langham Hotel Auckland, long considered one of the best hotels in the country; the plush Te Anau Hotel and Villas on the shores of Lake Te Anau, a property with stunning views of the Fiorland Range; and the Crowne Plaza Queenstown, an equally legendary and extolled lakeside resort.

Tauck’s guests will enjoy the amenities of world-class accommodations, gourmet meals, spa treatments and memorable scenery that, when spiced with New Zealand’s raw beauty, makes the country one of the premier destinations in the Southern Hemisphere.

But regardless of activities or the cost involved in a tour, all will leave with memories of this country’s great natural beauty and with an understanding of why New Zealand calls itself “Home to the Middle Earth,” paying homage to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Book with Ease

Various tour operators were asked their impressions about booking to New Zealand and what makes their product different from others.

Down Under Answers (DUA)

“Down Under Answers has a staff from either the destination or who have traveled extensively throughout the region. We have FIT/independent travel itineraries to suit clients’ style, taste and budget, but we also offer professional services for air-only bookings, group travel, youth and adventure travel, pre- or post-cruising options, as well as escorted coach touring. We also offer agents various tools to assist their planning, including an experienced staff of destination specialists and an online booking engine (agents.duatravel.com) that gives agents the ability to look up details about tours and hotels, check tour availability and pricing. Our products have been tested by regional experts and prepared for the discerning American traveler.”—Linda Furber, marketing manager

Goway Travel

“Our South Pacific team assures agents (gowayagent.com) that they are dealing with someone who’s either from, or been to, New Zealand. Our agents don’t take orders, they consult with the agent. Our self-drive program is made up of fully researched itineraries that include a variety of destinations with suggested route itineraries taking in attractions along the way.”—Emma Cottis, product and marketing manager